Chief Executive Officer of Arqiva, Paul Donovan
Chief Executive Officer of Arqiva, Paul Donovan

Existing Bilsdale mast will likely need to be dismantled say Arqiva

Chief Executive Officer of Arqiva, Paul Donovan - provides an update on Bilsdale Mast following the recent fire that affected services across the region.

Arqiva has provided an update on Bilsdale Mast following the recent fire that affected services across the region.

  • Arqiva Chief Executive to meet local leaders and community groups as latest new transmitter comes online at Sutton Bank
  • People in the Harrogate area should re-tune their TV’s
  • Around 500,000 households now returned to a Freeview coverage area
  • Arqiva will be meeting local organisations to discuss support for the most vulnerable affected

Chief Executive Officer, Paul Donovan, will be meeting council and community leaders across the area to discuss the restoration of services and how to prioritise the most vulnerable people affected, and he returned to the site to view progress. A new, temporary mast has today restored some TV services to over 100,000 more people in North Yorkshire.

While investigation into the cause of the fire continues, the implementation of the company’s recovery plans has now resulted in around 500,000 households being returned to a Freeview coverage area.

Arqiva’s view is that the damage caused by the fire means it is probable that the existing mast will have to be dismantled.

The company has used a combination of its existing sites and new, temporary structures to restore services and was today able to announce that an additional new transmitter site at Sutton Bank was now providing Freeview TV signals to over 100,000 households in areas including Harrogate, Knaresborough, Pickering, Ripon, Masham, Leyburn and northern parts of York.

The next stage of the plan is to build an 80 metre-high temporary mast on land near the existing mast at Bilsdale.

A team of around 100 people are in place to undertake the site preparation, helicopter lift for the mast structure and transmission set up. Working with local authorities, planning bodies, central Government, broadcast customers and regulators, the national park and others, good progress has been made in recent days. It is expected that this temporary mast will restore Freeview TV services to over 90% of affected households in the coming weeks.

Speaking close to the damaged mast, and after meeting council leaders, Chief Executive Paul Donovan said:

First and foremost, I want to apologise again to those who people who have had their services disrupted by the fire at Bilsdale Mast; and especially to those who rely on television for companionship.

Our absolute priority is to restore services as quickly as we can. We have a detailed recovery plan which continues to progress as quickly as possible. This morning Freeview television services were restored for over 100,000 more homes in the region.

However, this is a complex task and there is clearly a lot more to do, so we are working with our partners as quickly and safely as possible. I would like to extend a special thank you to all those people who have been supporting friends and neighbours who may not have access to the internet or other sources of information and entertainment. We will prioritise the most vulnerable people affected.

Our teams are doing everything in their power to restore services for as many people as possible as quickly as we can and we will provide further updates on progress.


  1. Following a major fire it has taken them almost a calendar month to suggest that the mast may need to be dismantled. I could have told them that on day one

  2. I wonder how long it would take a mast in, say, the SE to be replaced. And what of contingency planning for this sort of incident? Is there a central authority to complain to? This is a big deal affecting many people with no agency for licence holders to hold someone to account.

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